Vice India Climate CampaignVice India has launched an initiative covering the present global environmental conditions. They aim to gather action in need of a change. It recently covered an alarming issue rising in the Mount Everest.
Even the world's highest point above sea level, Mount Everest has not been spared of garbage dumps. Not just this, but there are a large number of dead bodies emerging from the melting glaciers. Mingma David Sherpa, a man who climbed Everest in the year 2010, shared his experience of his climb. He recalls that he felt sad when he crossed several bodies frozen in the moment of tragedy.
Mingma collaborated with an Australian TV producer in 2015 to form a pro-bono rescue team. They were financed by the producer to hire additional sherpas and documented the rescue operation. They reached around 52 bodies who were not only victims of the terrains but also the deadly man-made climate. The uncertain conditions led to their death.
Climate Change is Real
Last year, due to extreme climatic conditions, an avalanche took place killing around 16 people at the Khumbu glacier en route to Everest. In this year, climbers were stuck in the storm, resulting in the highest number of fatalities.
“You can’t predict what could happen anymore,” says Mingma. “Sometimes, there’s too much snow [in the mountains], sometimes less,” said Mingma.
Thus suggesting that the dead bodies which have been missing for years have started emerging from the ice along with tons of cans, bottles, discarded climbing gear and human waste. 5000 kilograms of waste is at the basecamp.
The Integrated Mountain Development
International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) conducted a five-year study. The study stated that the Hindu Kush and Himalayan glaciers are melting rapidly and are threatened to shrink to nearly a third of their size. Controlling CO2 emissions is the need of the hour. It is not just a concern for those Everest-foothill inhabitants, but a national interest as well. This region earns NPR 442 million each year alone.
Ang Tshering Sherpa, whose four family generations have been living off leading Everest expeditions, says clean-ups aren’t just good for the environment, they also make business sense. However, he commented on the collection of bodies, "The frozen body of an average person can weigh up to 160 kg due to the ice around it. But the sherpas do it for the environment and to remove from such height isn’t easy.”
Clean up OperationsThe first clean up operation took place in 1996. Since 2008, Ang Tshering’s travel agency, Asian Trekking Pvt Ltd, has been dedicating 20 per cent of its profits to annual clean-ups. The agency’s “Eco Expeditions” have since collected over 20.2 tons of garbage accumulated above Everest’s base camp. It also retrieved seven bodies from above 8400 metres.
The SPCC (Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee) was contracted by the government to lead a clean-up operation. In spring 2019, when the Everest trail was opened to mountaineers, a team of eight scoured the mountains and returned with 10.5 tons of garbage and seven bodies.
- To boost several other environmental actions like this, the Nepalese Government started collecting USD 4000 before an ascent which is refundable and processed after climbers return with 8 kilograms of garbage each.
- To reduce the problem of human faeces, climbers have been asked to collect them in a bag and dispose it after returning.
- A ban of single-use plastic in the Everest region has been initiated.
- A plan to restrict climbers who have climbed at least one 6,500 metre peak in Nepal before they attempt Everest.
“Everest is Nepal’s mother. We need to save her” said Tshering Tenzing.
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